Friday, September 14, 2018

Zestar versus Elstar Smackdow

Two partially blushed apples

Two modern August apples, crisp and sweet. Zestar (L)—sometimes "Zest Star"—from Minnesota, and Elstar, from the Netherlands.

So, it's 'Star vs. 'Star. Which is best?

The two summer apples have tentaive blushes over spring green. Zestar's green is more yellow and pale, its blush more of an orange pink.

Elstar's blush is streakier and redder, and covers more.

Its color set is more traditional compared to Zestar's designer palette.

Both have little tan lenticel spots in the blush. Elstar's are less numerous and more visible.

Of the pair, Elstar is a little more ribbed, and a little more tapered.

Zestar's stem is thicker. Its flesh oxidizes much faster, though both turn brown in short order.

Both are attractive apples. I guess I'd give Zestar the beauty prize.

But, how do they eat?

Elstar has white flesh with green highlights, medium coarse and juicy, with a satisfying crunch.

Its balanced flavors have a little tart in them, along with a stone-fruit note.

Zestar is sweeter, though still in the balanced zone.

Its off-white flesh is slightly more coarse-grained and also delivers a good crunch, though one that is more delicate. It bears notes of bananas and brown sugar.

I made this same comparison privately a week ago and decided that Zestar made the better snack.

Now, with Elstar nearing peak and Zestar perhaps past its prime, I reach the opposite conclusion, but only just.

Honestly, I'd say Zestar in August and Elstar after Labor Day.

But you might disagree with the second of those pronouncements if you are craving sugar.


  1. In my N WI orchard, Zestar is a late-summer apple whereas Elstar ripen and hold on the trees much later. I picked the last few in in early November and their quality was excellent. Zestar is an excellent quality apple albeit a scab magnet - I find it's flesh crunchy but not nearly as hard as Elstar. Zestar is sweeter and both have a nice complex flavor.

    1. I like both of these, and you are right that they do not really overlap perfectly.

      Thus my split decision, depending on the date.


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